We are a group of volunteer befrienders who welcome and support refugees who have been resettled in Lewisham. We provide the connections to build friendships, welcome refugees and strengthen our community. Our aim is to inspire both volunteers and refugees to become active agents of change, building a more cohesive society where people are better neighbours, newcomers feel more welcome and cities are more inclusive.
There are currently 23 (mainly Syrian) refugee families in Lewisham, but the Council has committed to bring this number up to 100 within 5 years so our volunteer community will be more important than ever.
We are always looking for reliable, friendly, compassionate volunteers to befriend refugees. The main way to get involved is by befriending – we match you with an individual or family, you agree to meet regularly and discuss how best to support them, then build the relationship from there. Some people like to practise their English, some to have a buddy to attend appointments or activities with, and some just like a friendly face and the opportunity for a chat and a cup of tea! We also have lots of other ways to get involved – helping to organise social events, planning activities, managing donations and much more.
We are building up expertise in:
– Partnership & networks – building a cohesive strategy that works across multiple partners and disciplines
– Knowledge of the refugee sector, refugee resettlement and the wider landscape
– Community engagement – recruiting, communicating with and motivating volunteers
– Funding successes
– Lewisham and all it has to offer for migrants, refugees and all residents
– Co-creation, peer mentoring and grassroots leadership – trying out methods of engaging our ‘beneficiaries’ in planning and contributing to strategy